If you know a thing or two about internet, you may have heard about IPv4 and IPv6. These stand for Internet Protocol version 4 (v4) and version 6 (v6). In order to use the internet, computers need IP addresses, which identify the senders and receivers of internet communications and are the element responsible for your online trail that allows websites to track your physical location. In recent times the choice of the used Internet Protocol version has become more important in unblocking access to Netflix U.S. and other popular streaming channels. Therefore it’s important to consider whether you should look for IPv4 or IPv6 with your (future) VPN provider.
IPv4 is the current protocol in use and the main advantage it gets over IPv6 is the fact that it’s been in use for decades. Each IP address in IPv4 is 32 bits long, which makes it simpler to remember, and IPv4 systems make use of less memory and less programming compared to IPv6 since you are transmitting 4 bytes instead of 8 bytes, which sometimes counts as a big overload of information. When IPv4 was created, the exponential advances in technology were not foreseen and, in short, it is currently running out of numbers as all possible addresses are being attributed.
IPv6 was then designed to replace IPv4 due to the number of devices connecting to the internet increasing considerably. An IPv6 IP address is 128 bits long which translates in an outrageous number of IP addresses. Therefore, this internet protocol has more capacity and is safer than the previous one (since it provides an authentication option so that the packets sent over the internet are more secured), though it loses in allowing some cases of DNS leaks which causes many VPN providers to stick with IPv4 instead. Also, many networks are not yet compatible with IPv6.
As you may know, Netflix has become available in more and more countries lately but no one has a bigger offer than the U.S. version. Therefore, demand for the American version is high outside of the Americas as well, and Netflix is currently putting a lot of effort in stopping users from accessing its geo-blocked content, having recently turned against those who do use IPv4 to IPv6 tunnels. Services like TunnelBroker.net allow you “to reach the IPv6 Internet by tunneling over existing IPv4 connections from your IPv6 enabled host or router to one of our IPv6 routers”. In short, it gives you a more stable connection but Netflix detects it and treats it as a VPN since there are tunnel endpoints in the U.S. that allow you to circumvent the geo-block. As of mid 2016, VPN providers have been resorting to IPv4 again in order to successfully unblock Netflix in the U.S., an approach that has its ups and downs as Netflix continues to battle unblocking solutions.
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